United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
L. Graham Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHELSEY M. VASCURA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Ruie Ellen Harris, brings this action under 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security
Income. This matter is before the United States Magistrate
Judge for a Report and Recommendation on Plaintiff's
Statement of Errors (ECF No. 11), the Commissioner's
Memorandum in Opposition (ECF No. 16), Plaintiff's Reply
(ECF No. 17), and the administrative record (ECF No. 10). For
the reasons that follow, it is RECOMMENDED
that the Court OVERRULE the Plaintiff's
Statement of Errors and AFFIRM the
Commissioner of Social Security's non-disability finding.
protectively filed her application for a period of
disability, Disability Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental
Security Income on October 11, 2013, alleging that she had
been disabled since April 3, 2012. An administrative law
judge (“ALJ”) held a hearing on November 6, 2015,
at which Plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and
testified. Kathleen M. Doehla, a vocational expert, also
testified. On November 19, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision
finding that Plaintiff suffered from two severe impairments:
schizoaffective disorder depressive type and post-traumatic
stress disorder. (ECF No. 10, PAGEID # 65). The ALJ found,
however, that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning
of the Social Security Act. (ECF No. 10, PAGEID # 70). On
December 14, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review and adopted the ALJ's decision as the
Commissioner's final decision. Plaintiff then timely
commenced this action.
Statement of Errors, Plaintiff raises two arguments: (1) the
ALJ failed to include all of the relevant concentration,
persistence, and pace limitations and all of the relevant
social limitations in his Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”) determination or to explain the omission
of certain limitations and (2) the ALJ failed to adequately
consider the opinion of Dr. Denise Kohler, a consultative
examiner from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Plaintiff argues that the RFC does not appropriately account
for her concentration, persistence, and pace limitations and
that it mischaracterizes her social limitations. With respect
to Dr. Kohler's opinion, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ
rejected some of the most severe limitations supported by Dr.
Kohler without correctly evaluating and examining them.
memorandum in opposition, the Commissioner asserts that the
ALJ incorporated the substance of the concentration,
persistence, and pace limitations, as well as, the social
limitations that are the basis for the Plaintiff's first
statement of error and that any minor difference in the
wording of those limitations is inconsequential. The
Commissioner also asserts that the ALJ appropriately
evaluated Dr. Kohler's opinion in light of improvements
in Plaintiff's impairments from the time of Dr.
Kohler's examination to the date of the hearing. The
Commissioner argues, therefore, that the record as a whole
supports the ALJ's assessment of Plaintiffs RFC.
THE RECORD and ADMINISTRATIVE
first statement of error relates to the following portion of
the ALJ's RFC determination: “work is limited to
simple routine and repetitive tasks in a work environment
free of fast paced production requirements involving only
simple work related decisions with few, if any, work place
changes, only brief and superficial interaction with public,
only occasional interaction with co-workers, no tandem tasks,
only occasional interaction with supervisors.” (ECF No.
10, PAGEID # 66). The ALJ relied upon the opinion of Dr.
Kevin Edwards, a consultative examiner, and consulting
State-agency psychologists in making the RFC determination.
Dr. Edwards opined that Plaintiff suffered the following
limitations in concentration, persistence, and pace:
• Mild difficulty with new learning, understanding,
remembering and carrying out instructions;
• Moderate impairments in her ability to maintain
attention and concentration; persistence and pace to perform
simple and multi-stepped tasks; and
• MDD and PTSD would interfere with persistence and
(ECF No. 10, PAGEID # 384). Dr. Edwards also opined, with
respect to social limitations, that Plaintiff “likely
would have an unfavorable response in groups.”
(Id.). The State-agency psychologists concluded that
Plaintiff was “capable of simple, repetitive tasks in a
setting that does not require working in tandem w/other
employees or fast-pace or filling large quotas” and
“limited to [occasional] superficial social
interactions in a less public setting.” (ECF No. 10,
PAGE ID # 133).
second statement of error relates to the ALJ's failure to
properly evaluate and credit the opinion of Dr. Denise
Kohler, who examined Plaintiff in May 2014 and determined
that Plaintiff suffered from a number of marked limitations:
• The ability to maintain attention and concentration
for extended periods;
• The ability to perform activities within a schedule,
maintain regular attendance, and be punctual within customary
• The ability to sustain an ordinary routine without
• The ability to work in coordination with or proximity
to others without being distracted by them;
• The ability to complete normal a workday and workweek
without interruptions from psychologically based symptoms and
to perform at a consistent pace without an ...